Editor’s Note: This is the first in a four-part series about how to answer common interview questions.
The Interview: Answers to Common Questions
You did it. You nailed your resume and cover letter. You networked with the right people and found great references. Now you have to prepare for the interview. Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but with a little practice, you can enter the interview with confidence!
Tell us about yourself.
This question is not an invitation to tell your life story. Be specific; don’t talk about your career in broad, general terms. Focus on telling a story that demonstrates you are a strong candidate for the job. Have a clear beginning, middle and end. Close with a statement that connects the story to the position for which you are interviewing. For example, “and that is why I am excited about this opportunity.”
What is your greatest strength?
Here is your chance to stand out. Give a specific example of how you have used your strength in the past. Finish by explaining how this quality can benefit their company.
For example, “I once took a call from an angry customer. Instead of immediately transferring her to the call center, I listened to her frustrations. She was calmer and ready to find a solution by the time I transferred her. Your company is known for excellent customer service. My ability to deal with difficult situations will support that reputation.”
What is your greatest weakness?
Answer honestly, but stay positive. Identify something you have struggled with but have worked to improve upon. Give a specific example of what you did to overcome the challenge.
For example, “In my last position I was responsible for keeping a spreadsheet with up-to-date sales data. Using spreadsheets is not my strength. So, I requested additional training to increase my skills. I am still not an expert, but I now have the necessary skills to do my job well.”
The best way to ace an interview is to prepare and practice. Prepare answers to these common questions ahead of time. Practice answering the questions clearly and concisely. Your answers will feel more natural and you will be more comfortable during the interview.